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When We First Met – Death and the Batman

by  in Comic News Comment

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ’em out!

Today, based on a morbid suggestion by reader Chris, we look at the various first instances of death in the pages of Batman’s comic books…

Chris had a bunch of different questions about the depiction of death in Batman comics. I’ll address them all while I also throw in a couple of other usages of death.

The first death in Batman comics is the death that kicks off the first Batman story in Detective Comics #27…


The first DEPICTED death happens the next page…


The issue ends with Batman killing his first bad guy…


But while Batman obviously doesn’t care that the guy died, as shown by his comment after the guy died…


I don’t know if you can tell for sure that Batman meant for him to die. So while this is the first time Batman killed a guy, I am not sure that I can say that it is the first time he INTENTIONALLY killed a guy.

Batman’s first super villain, Doctor Death, debuts in Detective #29, and dies at the end, becoming the first one of Batman’s super-villains to be killed.


The next issue, he is also the first Batman villain to “return” from the dead…


Later in the story, Batman intentionally kills his first guy…


Badass and actually kind of messed up. Neck-snapping probably shouldn’t be his go-to move, right?

Detective #33 gave us the first depiction of Batman’s parents’ death…


And the first time a super-villain killed someone in the comic. And wow, did they go overboard!


The head of the Dirigible of Death is killed in sky battle with Batman…


If you don’t think that the Dirigible of Death guy counts as a super-villain, then the first super-villain who actually killed someone in a Batman story was Hugo Strange, who orders the death of this guy in Detective #36…


Here’s Hugo’s awesome entrance…


Batman #1 has Joker’s first kill…


In the second story in #1, Hugo Strange mutates some dudes into becoming giant monsters. Here, they attack the GCPD…



I think that the odds are that a GCPD member was killed in those two pages, which would answer Chris’ question as to when did a GCPD police officer first get killed in a Batman comic.

If that doesn’t count, the third story in the issue certainly would, as the Joker kills the chief of police…


and the Joker likely kills some cops later in the story…


Hugo Strange ORDERS his people killed and Doctor Death and the Mad Monk somehow managed to not kill anyone, so the Joker is the first one of Batman’s super-villains to actually kill someone himself!

Thanks for the morbid suggestions/questions, Chris!